Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Driving test day

Today one of my little sister's had her driving test.  I just sent her a text this morning to say Good Luck and left it that.  I figured she had enough of me telling her how to drive when I was in the car with her without me texting her about it too, plus she is a good little beginner driver so I would have bet she would pass.

Which she did!
Here she is straight after the test with her new N (novice) plates which replace her L (learner) plates. She's pretty happy as you can see.  

The N plates are a new thing in Ireland.  Back in my day you were a Learner on a Provisional licence until you got passed your test and got your real licence.  But they weren't too strict back then and you could drive unaccompanied on L plates etc.  Nowadays it is much stricter and you cannot drive unaccompanied as a Learner driver.  The test is more difficult now as well.  And now they have introduced these N plates.  I am not sure how long Katie will have to display these until she is a fully qualified driver.  Probably a year or so.

I got her a card and a silly little car gift to say Well Done ;-)

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Vintage Birthday Barbie 1996

A while back I blogged about my collection of Barbie Dolls which I started collecting in about 1995 and am looking to sell or at least move on now.  To be honest the money isn't really that important to me.

I am having limited success with this exercise.  Their are not too many barbie collectors in Ireland and I am not inclined to post abroad.  So I need to come up with ways of "shifting" them. I may sell them at a bric-brac type sale coming which Enid and I have attended in the past.

I am also getting creative and giving them as gifts where possible.

It was my niece's birthday last week.  She was 8.  So she got 1996 Birthday Barbie as a present. 

Barbie goes all out on her birthday and rocks a full length, full skirted ball gown.  Go Barbie!

While it is in mint condition and is over 20 years old I am leaving it entirely up to my niece if she wants to keep it in the box or take it out and play with it.  I think it would be unfair to say to an 8 year old, it's vintage don't take her out of her box.

Pretty face

A lovely Saturday

I woke yesterday to some pretty awful grey weather.  Hopped on the train up to mam's and by the  time I got off the train it was lashing cold rain. Ugh.

On the basis of the weather Katie and I drove out to Enid's rather than getting the bus.

We had a lovely morning eating a great spread that Enid put on (eggs and rashers) and lots and lots of coffee.  We even got into the hot tub even though it was raining which was really nice.

Then we visited to Rathmines and the local Dead Mall for a potter.  I suggested we might take in some charity shops as well (thrift stores in the US), I do like a nice rummage :-)

Nothing really good in the charity shop but I did get three books for €1 euro each.  Enid and Katie also got some books.

I also got these these adorable little flowery jug and sugar bowl for my mother!

How cute are these!  And also they were an incredible bargain at 50c each!!! Yep €1 for the two of these.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Lo-Cal Kitchen, Phoenix Park Racecourse

This morning I was just about to set off to the towncentre, for a coffee and a read of the newspapers in Starbucks, when mam rang me and said she was meeting her friend in the Lo-Cal Kitchen at 12 and would I like to come along.  

Because I have just started my LCHF lifestyle I nipped on to their website while I had mam on the phone (more on that below!).  I identified something that I could adapt to LCHF so I said I'd love to come along.

It's a very clever and cute decorated cafe/restaurant.  I don't know if it was the sunny weather today or if it is just the combination of their paint colours plus their fun signs on the wall but it has a very beachy feel to it.  A very relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.

They serve their tea in lovely china.  Myself and Frances liked the knitted teapot cosies, whereas mam said she'd prefer the old fashioned flowery padded material kind.  We agreed to disagree.  That is mam's spinach, ginger and kale smoothie in the picture too.

As you can probably guess from their name they serve good, healthy low calorie food.  They detail the calories beside each item, plus also detail the vitamins and nutrients.  Big thumbs up.

Frances ordered the Healthy Hangover which is essentially a Full Irish but with turkey rashers and sausages.  Mam had previously had the rashers and she said she thought there was no difference between them and pork rashers.  Whereas Frances said she thought there was a difference in the rashers, but that she liked the turkey sausages a lot and didn't taste a difference in them.

I ordered the chicken parmesan sub - without the bread and without the marinara sauce.  And with the spinach on the side.  Mam took my spinach so essentially what I was left with was chicken and cheese which is part of my LCHF food.  I brought full fat mayo with me and added it on the plate.  I also had a coffee - I brought full fat cream with me also.

Oops!  Completely forgot to take  a photo of it until I was halfway through it.  If it looks a bit black and speckled that is because I put a big load of pepper on it.

All in all very very nice food, good service, lovely surroundings and a nice time had.  

In fact the only criticism I have is about their website...
In the About section they describe themselves "at the heart of Castleknock, in the Phoenix Park Racecourse"  To me "at the heart of Castleknock" would be Castleknock Village i.e. beside Myos.  Lo-Cal is in the Phoenix Park Racecourse, much closer to Ashtown than Castleknock village.  I find it pretentious when people grasp on to Castleknock when they are nearer to other places.
Hmm.  Maybe they mean it figuratively rather than physically, anyway it still irks me.

The other thing is that when you click on "Menu" at the top, nothing happens.  It neither moves down to the menu, nor loads a menu.  After sitting there for an age while I was on the phone to mam, and giving out that their website was sooo slow I finally figured out that you can locate the menus by just scrolling right down through the website.  But I think it still might be glitch - when you click on all of the other options it brings you to the correct place.

But these things above don't take away from the great food they serve and the nice morning I had there.

Click here to see more information - The Lo-Cal kitchen's website.  

Clean 9 detox and LCHF lifestyle

A couple of months ago I wrote about my plans to start a Clean 9 detox (my main intention being weight loss) and that I would report back in 9 days.  Read about my plans and what the detox involved - here

As it happens on the very day I was due to start I woke up feeling ill so I postponed starting it on that day.  Then I had a work trip to Abu Dhabi so there was no point starting before that (as I would be then eating a lot in hotels/eating out on the trip), then February turned into /March, and of course then there was Easter (chocolate) and things went bad, very bad.

Long story short I hit my peak overweight weight about two weeks ago :-( It was time to do the detox and get a plan together for the remainder of the year/my life.  I have a big beach holiday in Mexico coming up in July and at a minimum I need to look good in a bikini for that.

So how did I find the Clean 9?

I will start with the good news - I lost between 5-7lbs (it fluctuated) and centimetres off my waist, hips, thighs and arms. So it was well worth doing it in my opinion, and I am very happy with the results as a start into the new healthy me.  The other good news is that I finished the detox on Wednesday evening and the weight has stayed off, so it was not just water weight etc.
Other good news is that it has got me into a great habbit of drinking water which I am going to keep up.

So big thumbs up for the results, hooray!  Even though other people lose more weight (7-9lbs) I achived what I wanted from this detox diet.  But I won't lie to you it was challenging.  Actually no, I lie, the first two days were AWFUL but after that the remaining 7 days were FINE.

The first day you take a combination of aloe vera gel (knock it back like a shot - I found holding my nose helped me!), garcinia tablets, bee pollen tablets, lots and lots of water, and one protein shake.  I was starving, absolutely starving, and I found that hard.  But that was only for 2 days.  

For day 6-9, you take the above, plus an additional protein shake (two in total) plus a <600 calorie evening meal.  I ate a piece of meat - either chicken or salmon with one sweet potato (microwaved and then cut into strips and placed under the grill).  I really really "enjoyed" the meal each evening.  If I was hungry at all during these days I just drank a big glass of water and that got rid of the hunger.

So all in all while I found Clean 9 challenging (from end to end) I am very happy with the results.  

I then went shopping for the diet I plan to now follow.  

Real food!

I am moving back to a LCHF lifestyle.  I have done it in the past - and wrote about it here - and I found it worked superbly for me.  I literally had No Cravings for chocolate or sugar.  The premise is that the fat satisfies you and removes the sugar longing.  I unfortunately fell off the wagon spectacularly and the result is I am here.  But I am feeling good, after the Clean 9 I feel I''ve made a good start and I am set up for success this time around. 

Wish me luck!

*If you would like to do your own Clean 9 detox contact Faith at Aloe Vera - Forever Living
I'd love to hear how you get on with your clean/lchf lifestyle!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Beautiful brooches

My neighbours across the road were in Prague for a couple of days and while they were gone we fed their cat Zorro.  They kindly bought me a little gift back to say thank you.  

Isn't this just adorable!!

As it happens I am a big fan of brooches and pictured below are my two favourite.

This is a Star (literally!) by Julian MacDonald brooch.  It currently brightens up a black work blazer.

This is a vintage marcasite flower brooch.

My absolute favourite ever was a beautiful blue butterfly marcasite brooch which my twin Enid bought me for being her bridesmaid.  Unfortunately as can happen with brooches the clasp got loose on it and I lost it on a night out.

Ikea trip and then more diy

I woke up this morning and it was miserable.  Raining heavily and very windy.  The choice was either stay in bed or just get up and get on with it.  I went with the latter (part of my plan to get up and Do Something a the weeked).  

I decided to go to Ikea.  I didn't have to get anything but figured it would be nice for a potter.
First things first I got breakfast.  
Ikea have really improved their breakfast offering with everything freshly baked or cooked and laid out nicely.  They have scones, cereals, muesli, fruit salad, pastries and then a cooked breakfast of rashers, sausages, eggs and potato farls.

I bought: spare red blanket that I use to cover Harry's chair (see pic below), a toilet 
brush, and some chocolate ().

And then when we came home I put up a 4th blind in my house - I am gone blind mad but I think this is my final one for a while.  From the front of the house there is a blind on every window and it does finish off the windows nicely.  These are the blinds I bought in Harry Corry and I'm very happy with them.

Co-incidence or Co-twincidence?!

Yesterday on our shopping expedition Enid and I turned up wearing the exact same shoes and bag!

The joys of being identical twins :-)

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Shopping trip - work clothes

My work wardrobe is looking really poor lately so I enlisted Katie and Enid to help me this morning.  I am a person who does not necessarily like shopping - I am very much a "needs must" type of person.  To be honest I tend to do a lot of my shopping when I am on holidays in America to last me the year.

It was a successful trip anyway. Soooooo a rundown of what I got.

A cute little blue and white stripey seersucker jacket.
A white top to wear underneath.
Trousers and shoes are from my wardrobe

Same jacket with a new navy and white top underneath

Light blue flowery top. Jacket and trousers my own

Black and white animal print (small print) top

Cream top.

Jacket and dress combo

You likey? :-)

Low calorie dinner

I am in the middle of a detox which involves 9 days of drinking liquids (aloe vera gel & protein shake) and tablet supplements.  The first two days was purely that and I was starving!!!!  But for the 7 days after that you also eat a low calorie dinner.

This evening I made a lovely piece of salmon with cajun seasoning and baked sweet potato.

To make the sweet potato I microwave it for about 4 minutes until it is soft (and easier to cook!) and then put it in the oven under the grill (broiler in the US) and caramelise it a little.  Oh I put lots of rock salt and pepper on it also.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Road to the Rising

The weather today was pretty stunning. The sun came out, and it was WARM, so unusual for Ireland.

If you follow Irish history you will know that Easter weekend is a big part of our history as an independent Republic. Next year will be the 100 year anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising and in preparation for that there was a large festival held in the city today.

Katie dropped us off near the Mater hospital and we walked down through Parnell Street coming upon the Garden of Remembrance first.  This garden is in memoriam of all freedom fighters and in the sunlight looked particularly well.

At the end of the sunken crucifix there is a large statue of the Children of Lir (an Irish legend/story).

On to the Road to the Rising where the sights and sounds of 1915 was recreated.
This girl in the centre is depicting a bride in the style of the time.

The GPO (General Post Office) is probably one of the most important locations seized during the rising.

Overlooking the festivities today was "Big Jim" Jim Larkin

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Busy day!

Today was a GOOD day!  
I got a lot of (dirty) old chores done and a few new ones done too.  Plus also I had a nice catch up with some family.

The day didn't start out well, I had a bad nights sleep and then woke up very early. I had arranged to meet Kasey (cousin) and Enid for coffee at 10am in the towncentre and being completely honest I wasn't feeling great setting off.  But it was a lovely day and it soon felt good to be up and out.

On my way over to the towncentre Katie (little sister) texted to say she was there also so she said she'd meet us as well.  We had a nice coffee and then went into a few nice shops: Waltons where we looked at all their great musical instruments (Katie is looking for a new keyboard), Home Store and More (I bought Kate a Vanilla Lime yankee candle - that's my favourite; it reminds me of Key West) and then Harry Corry where I bought two blackout  blinds.

I also bought some baking soda and salt to tackle my icky shower drain.  See below (it ain't pretty)

First I did my usual removal of the hair gunge from the shower.  Where does it all come from???

Then I poured the baking soda down the drain, and the salt down on top of it.  I then emptied a kettle of boiling water and it satisfyingly bubbled away.  I then ran the shower for about 5 minutes to clear it all out.

Bit of a difference I think you will agree.

Sparkling clean!

Also today I  also installed two blinds in the bedrooms.